What Litigation Means for Your Divorce Case
Divorce is a process full of issues that can push a couple into heated disputes. The matters that must be settled are central to a person’s well being and the life of his or her child. Thus, resolving these issues through mediation or the collaborative process is not always an option.
If less contentious alternatives to litigation have any chance at working, each party must approach the process willing to engage in some amount of compromise, and hold reasonable expectations for the settlement he or she is willing to accept. Unfortunately, some spouses enter divorce with a hard stance that the other side is unable to persuade to compromise.
Additionally, other cases involve disputes where each party holds views that cannot be jointly reconciled. In these situations, litigation may be the only viable option for resolving a disagreement, and understanding the various stages of a typical litigated divorce should help spouses recognize the complexity involved and could even spur some to reconsider attempting a negotiated settlement.
Reflective of the extra time disputed issues add to divorce cases, McHenry County Courts are starting a new program that will engage spouses in “problem-solving” sessions with local attorneys in hopes of resolving issues to streamline the divorce process. Working with an experienced divorce attorney in a litigated divorce case is crucial to getting a fair outcome.
Filing a Divorce Petition and Response
To initiate a divorce case, a petition must be filed with the Family Court located in the county where one or both spouses live. The Family Court handles all divorce cases, even those without children, and will decide unresolved issues relevant to each couple. The divorce petition is a formal request for the dissolution of a marriage, and is where the petitioner states all of his or her demands and positions on each issue. The other spouse has 30 days after being served with the divorce petition to file an appearance and answer, which notifies the Court of his or her intent to participate in the case, and provide his or her response to the statements made in the original petition.
Discovery is the stage in a divorce case which allows each spouse to compel the other to disclose information related to any pending issue—child custody, child support, property division, etc.—so that he or she can ascertain the rights and obligations to seek moving forward. This information is generated by requesting copies of financial records, asking live questions at a deposition, or through written question and answer, called interrogatories. This process is particularly important if there are doubts about the truthfulness of one spouse, especially when those doubts relate to finances, since the other spouse cannot reasonably know what is fair if full disclosure of assets and liabilities is not forthcoming.
Typically, after receiving pertinent information in the discovery process that gives each party an idea of what settlement he or she should receive, a negotiated settlement is attempted with the assistance of attorneys. Each side presents his or her position on outstanding issues, and common ground is sought so a marital settlement agreement can be formed. Even if negotiation cannot resolve all issues, the less left for the Judge to decide the better, in terms of cost and outcome for everyone involved.
If negotiation is partially or wholly unsuccessful, then a trial is held in front a Judge who applies relevant divorce law to reach a final resolution. Each side will present his or her arguments and evidence in support of the desired outcome; however, Courts rarely stray from the standard options listed in Illinois divorce law. Most families would derive much more satisfaction and benefit from a more customized arrangement, so litigation should be the last resort while the parties try to retain as much control over the outcome as possible.
Contact an Illinois Divorce Attorney
Divorce is about much more than simply severing legal ties with a spouse. Many critical issues must be addressed so that each party can move forward with financial security and appropriate child custody rights. The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C. understand the confusion and stress created by divorce, and offer several different approaches to resolve your case, both adversarial and non-adversarial. Contact a passionate Schaumburg family law attorney at the law firm today for a free initial consultation.